It was a gorgeous weekend for TOAST of Tribeca this month, and I scooped up the kids and decided to make the artwalk our Sunday event. Both of my girls love art and I thought it would be fun for them (and me) to see how many artists and how much creative talent is all around us. The work we saw was amazingly diverse and it was really a kick getting into all of these studio spaces that dotted around the area. We do see a lot of spaces of course when doing local deliveries, but many of these were in buildings that I’ve never been in, with hallways dedicated to artists and their work.
Although I loved many of the artists, a couple stood out to me from a “Babesta” point of view. The first is Elizabeth Pantirer, who’s unique shoe-art featured running shoes morphed with creatures of the sea and land. Very cool stuff and I thought something that would be awesome for a kids’ room (something sweet for a newborn crafted from a first pair of shoes? Or something super cool for a tween/teen room with a fave pair of kicks as a conversation piece). I reached out to Elizabeth to hear a little bit more about her funky creations. –JC
We’re all about cool kicks at Babesta – What inspired you work with sneakers?
I was first inspired in the summer of 2009 when I wore my running shoes out. They were just about to have holes when I decided to retire them. I experienced some amazing runs in those shoes and I wanted to turn them into an art project in which I could portray the determination and ferocity I felt when running in these shoes. I then developed my first sneaker monster.
How long have you been doing this? What’s your background?
I’ve been making sneakers for almost 4 years now. I am a student at the New School and although I am not a fine arts major I do take advantage of the amazing fine arts and crafting classes they offer.
What sort of materials do you use to build your sneaker-art? How’s it done?
I like to mold the shoe from the inside out into the shape that I desire. I cut into the shoe to shape the mouth and then mold the inside to keep the mouth opened. I then use a very lightweight clay to mold what the outside will look like. Once I’ve done this I can paint it and adhere it to the shoe. I use different types of adhesives based on the size of the clay being adhered, the effect and the weight. I have also used Halloween props (a fake finger for a shark) and gardening props (fake grass for elephants).
How was TOAST this year? Have you done it in the past?
TOAST this year was absolutely phenomenal. The studio I showed in had a lot of traffic over the weekend and a lot of people took interest in my shoes. This is the 4th year that I have been involved with TOAST. After my first year in the show a hip-hop sneaker organization contacted me about my sneaker monster and invited me into one of their shows.
You said you have done baby shoes too (what animal?) -that’s pretty cool – any other standout custom requests you’ve had?
Last year I was commissioned to make baby shoes for a newborn baby. I took 2 sneakers and turned them into elephants and aligned them one behind the other. One elephant (the one in the back) was slightly smaller than the other and had its trunk wrapped around the tail of the bigger elephant. After this TOAST event I have been asked to make custom sneakers for a newborn boy. The couple come from Japan and Italy and I have been working on making one sneaker a koi fish and the other a stallion.
Custom shoes range about $200+. For more info, email Elizabeth Pantirer at email@example.com.